We’ve been looking at the difference between Christianity and other major religions – particularly their teaching about how to get to heaven. Today we look at Buddhism.
The founder of Buddhism was Sidhartha Gautama (c.566-486 BC) who was born a Hindu in India. As an adult, Gautama was convinced of the inevitability of suffering and death and so sought enlightenment and release from reincarnation. Gautama eventually reached a state of full enlightenment while under a tree and became ‘the Buddha’ (the Enlightened one). He now knew how to enter into salvation (Nirvana – the final state), but instead of entering into Nirvana directly, Gautama chose to teach the dhamma (law) he had rediscovered.
Buddhist teaching stands on ‘four excellent truths’: (i) suffering is universal; (ii) the cause of suffering is selfish desire; (iii) the cure for suffering is to eliminate selfish desire; (iv) selfish desire is eliminated by following the middle way – the noble eightfold path. The eightfold path consists of eight ways of right living: (i) right views; (ii) right intentions; (iii) right speech; (iv) right action; (v) right occupation; (vi) right effort; (vii) right mindfulness; (viii) right meditation.
Buddhism is right to condemn selfish desire as the cause of suffering – if there was no sin there would be no suffering. Yet, in contrast to Christianity, Buddhism is wrong to teach that the way to solve sin is through right living. If you want your sin and suffering to be removed for eternity, you need someone to take your sin and your eternity of suffering for you. The only one who can do that is Jesus Christ. Thus there are not eight right paths, but only one right path – the pathway known as Jesus Christ: ‘Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).’ How do you get on the path of Jesus? Not through right living, but through belief in Jesus: ‘”I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)’. If you believe Jesus died for you at the cross, your sin and suffering for eternity is removed.
Do you recognise the sin and suffering in your life? Do you think that you can make up for your sin yourself? Or do you trust that at the cross Jesus took your sin and suffering for you?